Iceland's Annie Throrisdottir may have decided against becoming an Olympian, but she's a champion in her own right: the athlete recently won the Reebok CrossFit Games for the second time in a row, securing her title of Fittest Female on Earth.
Even if competitive exercise isn't in your future, CrossFit may still be the perfect workout — at least according to CrossFit's biggest fan. "CrossFit is good for everyone, which is why pretty much my whole family is doing it; my parents love it," she told me after her CrossFit Games win. Even so, there's a right way and wrong way to start CrossFit.
Just try it: One of CrossFit's greatest strengths, says Annie, is the fact that it encompasses many different types of exercise. "It's so diverse," Annie says. She started CrossFit through running and deadlifts, gradually working her way up to more difficult aspects of the workout, like muscle-ups (done on gymnastics rings). "Try it out, and even though you get really sore after your first training session, that does not mean that you have to give up," Annie says. "Give it at least one or two weeks and then the soreness will go away and it will start being really fun. You can measure everything and see how you're getting better; it's so much different than going to the gym by yourself."
Take it slow: You may be inspired by all the chiseled men and women you see in CrossFit campaigns, but the fact is that you need to perfect your form before you actually ramp up your workout. "It's really important that you're keeping good form in everything that you do," Annie advises. "That's what me and my coaches have been working on a lot for the past years: making sure that nothing I do is unsafe. If you get injuries, you're not going to want to train anymore. It was kind of hard for me because I always go full out every single training session, but it was definitely good to take it one step backwards and focus on doing things perfectly; then it was so much easier to build on it, and I got further than I thought I could. That's definitely the way to go; always think about listening to your body."
Read on for more of Annie's tips for CrossFit newbies!
Learn it, use it: Think of CrossFit as functional fitness, Annie says. Once you learn how to pick up a heavy weight, you can use the same technique to prevent injury in your daily life. "You see people that have a problem picking their kids up or putting their stuff in the overhead compartments on the airplanes, and you want to be able to do those things [correctly]," Annie explains. "You learn to do those things in the gym by doing CrossFit."
Fuel right: Unlike many CrossFit enthusiasts, Annie doesn't follow the Paleo or Zone diets, but she has spent a lot of time finding a healthful eating plan that keeps her energized throughout her oft-grueling workouts. "I try to eat as clean as possible and pick the right stuff [at] the store. I eat a lot of dairy because we have a lot of good dairy in Iceland," says Annie, who recommends Skyr, a high-protein, low-sugar strained yogurt from Iceland that she calls "even better than Greek yogurt."